Kansai Summertime Guide: Fireworks Festivals in Kyoto, Osaka and Beyond

Lily Crossley-Baxter

Kansai has its fair share of impressive firework events, so here is a list of some of the top events that can’t be missed, from local festivals to some of the biggest displays in the world!

kansai fireworks
Photo by Yousuke used under CC

Fireworks in Japan are synonymous with summer, with yukata, picnics, drinking and food stalls all creating the perfect atmosphere for families, friends and couples alike. The scene is pretty similar to hanami in spring, with blue tarps spread out, plenty of food and drinks and a plenty to see. While some displays are part of larger festivals, some are stand-alone, with huge displays lasting an hour or more. Forget the minor displays of home, Japan does fireworks right—with characters, animals and some so large they light up the sky as if it were day. Wherever you are in Kansai this summer, there are bound to be plenty of local festivals, with most cities having their own. Here is a list of some of the biggest in each prefecture so you can enjoy one of the best part of a Japanese summer.

Osaka Fireworks Festivals

Osaka Fireworks
Photo by Yousuke used under CC

Tenjin Matsuri  |  July 25th  |  7:30pm – 8:50pm

Although not solely a fireworks festival, the 1000-year-old Tenjin Matsuri has an amazing display on the second night, right along the river. There is a famed procession of over 3000 people dressed in imperial court costumes who then board over 100 boats and are carried down the Dotonbori River. At dusk, the boats are lit with fires and the firework display begins. This is a brilliant opportunity to see one of the most well-known boat festivals in Japan as well as experiencing the Osaka atmosphere, known for friendly and charming. The festival takes place at Tenmangu Shrine on the 24th and 25th of July 2017 with the hour and a half firework display on the second day.

The site is a 5-minute walk from Osaka Tenmangu Shrine Station. More details are available here

Naniwa Yodogawa Fireworks Festival | August 5th | 7:40pm – 8:40pm

The 29th Naniwa Yodogawa festival will take place on the banks of the Yodo River, with great viewing points from the Yodogawa Riverside Park on either side. There are thousands of fireworks with premium displays and underwater fireworks too. The festival was originally a community volunteer project but has now grown into one of the biggest spectacles in the area. The crowds are huge and it is advised that you arrive at the nearest stations before 6pm as there will be crowd control required. There are a lot of paid seats available starting from around 2,000 yen and going up to 10,000 yen. Some are available in advance, some on the day and some both.

The nearest stations are Tsukamoto, Nakatsu and Osaka Umeda. More details are available here

PL Art of Fireworks | August 1st  | 7:45pm – 9pm

With over 85,000 fireworks and some of the most creative designs going, this display is considered one of the biggest and best in the world. Since it is religious, it is also one of the more unusual as it is an event held by the Church of Perfect Liberty. The display is free, with fireworks so big they light up the sky as if it were day, if only for a few seconds. The show can be seen from miles around, but the most popular viewing sites are in the Kokyu Country Club.

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The closest station is Tondabayashi on the Kintetsu Nagano Line. More details are available here (but not many).


Mie Fireworks Festivals

Kuwana Fireworks
Kuwana Fireworks | Photo by Emran Kassim used under CC

Ise Shrine Dedication Fireworks Festival | July 15th | 7:20pm – 9pm

Held on the banks of the Miyagawa River, this festival is dedicated to Ise Shrine, and is one of the three biggest in Japan. With over 10,000 fireworks, pyrotechnicians from across the country attend to demonstrate their skills. As it is a fireworks competition, they do their best to show creative designs and displays, so you are guaranteed a great show. There will be extra bus services held from nearby stations including Ise-shi and Uji-Yamada during the evening. Paid seats are available offering the best views.

The site is a 5-minute walk from Yamada-kamiguchi, 10 minutes from Miyamachi. More details are available here



Kuwana Suigo Fireworks Festival | July 29th | 7:30pm – 9pm

Held on the banks of the Ibi River, the Kuawana fireworks are a large-scale display with over 10,000 showering the night sky. The festival celebrates the completion of the Ise Bridge and has been running since 1934. The festival also has underwater fireworks, which are released below the surface, illuminating the water from below. The sky fireworks include impressive designs such as the Niagara and Star Mines, with an underwater starmine too.

The site is a 20-minute walk from Kuwana Station, which is 20 minutes from Nagoya. More details available here.

Kumano Fireworks Display | August 17th  | 7:10pm – 9:30pm

The largest fireworks festival in Mie and surrounding areas, the Kumano Fireworks display has over 10,000 fireworks and is a truly spectacular sight. One of the largest to be held in a rural area, the festival takes place at the Shichirigahama Beach with fireworks launched from the sea. There’s plenty of seating available as the beach can easily hold tens of thousands of people. The show will be postponed due to bad weather, rather than canceled.

The site is a few minutes’ walk from Kumanoshi Station. More details are available here.  




Nara Fireworks Festivals

Nara Fireworks
Photo by N Whitely used under CC

Wakakusa Yamayaki | January 28th | 5:30pm onwards

Ok, so it may be in January, but this festival is the best in Nara and definitely deserves a mention. Once a year, on the 4th Saturday of January, the grass on Mount Wakakusayama is set alight and can be seen from across the city. Preceded by a fireworks display, the night is filled with excitement and anticipation, with ceremonies and processions from 12pm. A bonfire is lit at 5:30pm, followed by fireworks before the entire mountainside is set alight, taking about an hour to burn completely.

The Oyodo Yoshino River Fireworks Festival | August 15th | 8pm – 9pm

Launched from the bed of the Yoshino River, the display of 4000 fireworks is set against the stunning backdrop of the mountains behind. Burning lanterns are also sent across the river during the festival to send off spirits of the deceased.

A 10-minute walk from JR Gojo station, 80 minutes from Nara Station. More details are available here.  


Kyoto Fireworks Festivals

Kyoto Fireworks
Photo by Dave used under CC

Uji Hanabi | Postponed for 2017

Unfortunately, one of the biggest festivals in the Kyoto area has been postponed indefinitely as they change locations and reconsider the best plan for holding a successful event. Further details available here.

Kameoka Hozugawa River Firework Display | August 7th | 8pm

Held on the Hozu River as a celebration of peace, this display of 5000 fireworks is the final event of the city’s annual Peace Festival. This festival provides a more local feel, with food stalls and performances throughout the day. The brightly lit yatai (food stalls) add to the wonder of the festival, with over 75,000 people making the journey from all around to enjoy the show. There are plenty of viewing spots at Oigawa Ryokuchi East Park as well as paid seating starting from around 1,000 yen. The area is close to Arashiyama and you can take a boat ride down the river.

The nearest station is Kameoka and the site is a 15-minute walk away. More details are available here.

Miyazu Toro Nagashi Fireworks Display | August 16th | Time TBA

Although a smaller display with around 4000 fireworks, the highlight of this event is the procession of 10,000 floating lanterns released onto the river each year. With a 400-year history, the festival was originally held to send off the spirits of ancestors  and fireworks were added in 1924 when the railway was completed. On land, the Miyazu dance is performed along with other ceremonies and stalls. With the surface of the ocean covered in glowing lanterns and the sky filled with fireworks, it’s an incredible view with seating available in Shimazaki Park.

The site is a 10-minute walk from Miyazu Staion. 

Minato Maizuru Chatta Festival | July 30th

The festival takes place on the last Saturday and Sunday in July and ends with an impressive fireworks display on the final night. You can enjoy the views from the beach as the fireworks are launched from a ship in the bay. The festival includes local dances and processions throughout the town and is a smaller more local affair than many of the larger festivals. There are food stalls and traditional festival games and treats available too.

The beach is a short walk from Higashi Maizaru Station. More details are available here (but not many).


Hyogo Fireworks Festivals

Photo by Xiaojun Deng used under CC

Minato Kobe Fireworks Festival | August 5th | 7:30pm – 8:30pm

This year the 47th Minato Fireworks display will be held on the first Saturday of the month and is considered the Kansai equivalent of the Tokyo Bay fireworks. Kobe is one of the three big night views in Japan, so you can double up here and get the stunning views with additional fireworks and festivities. Over 10,000 fireworks are launched with creative designs and can be seen across the city. Some good viewpoints include Meriken Park or the port Island Station, both offering great views of the display and the city skyline. Venus Bridge on Mount Maya is one of the more romantic viewing spots which is popular with couples. Paid seats are available to purchase from ticket machines at Lawson and bookings are available at hotel restaurants like the Hotel Okura and Kobe Meriken Park Oriental Hotel if you want to be super romantic.

JR Sannomiya Station is a 20-minute walk to Meriken Park from the south exit. More details are available here.


Shiga Fireworks Festivals

Biwa Fireworks
Photo by Party Lin used under CC

Hikone and Kita-Biwako Great Firework Festival  | August 1st | 7:30pm – 8:30pm

The first of the lake’s fireworks festivals is held by Matsubara swimming beach on August 1st. Here you can watch approximately 10,000 fireworks stretch across the lake with incredible views and reflections all round. The site is near Hikone Castle and romantic boat cruises are available on the evening too. In case of bad weather, the event will be postponed to the following day.

The site is a 30-minute walk from Hikone Station. More details are available here.

Nagahama and Kita-Biwako Great Fireworks | August 4th | Time TBA

On the northern side of Lake Biwako you can enjoy the Nagahama Port display of over 10,000 fireworks. The best viewpoint is the small Ho Park, a few minutes’ walk from the nearby Nagahama Station. With the large lake forming the perfect reflective backdrop, you’re guaranteed a great show.

The park is a few minutes from Nagahama Station. More details available here

Lake Biwa Great Fireworks Festival | 8th August | 7:30pm – 8:30pm

The last of the lake’s displays is held on the 8th with another round of other 10,000 fireworks to light up the lake and skies for miles around. This event takes place in Otsu Port and is a much more city-like affair, with a stunning skyline  and city lights adding to the view. In case of bad weather, the event will be postponed to the 11th.

Hamaotsu Station is a 3-minute walk away and Otsu and Zeze are also close. More details are available here.


Wakayama Fireworks Festivals

Minato Fireworks
Photo by Kabacchi used under CC

Minato Matsuri Firework Display | Late July | 8pm – 9pm

Around 3000 fireworks are fired into the night sky above Wakayama Port, providing stunning reflections against the backdrop of the beautiful city skyline. The event was originally started to pray for the port’s safety and also brings visitors to the port.

The closest station is Wakayamako, which is a 10-minute walk away. More details available here

Shirahama Fireworks Display | July 30th | 8pm – 8:40pm

The first fireworks festival was held in 1948 and has been a staple of summer in Wakayama ever since. One of the highlights of this incredible show is the 1000-meter-long Niagara display which spans across the sea to form an incredible waterfall of fire. Around 3500 fireworks are launched in the full display with a wide variety of designs and colors, creating incredible views wherever you watch from. Shirahama Beach is a great place to enjoy it with food stalls in the area too should you get peckish.

The closest station is Shirahama, then catch the Meiko Bus to Shirahama Beach. More details are available here






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